When you look inside your older car, chances are, it doesn’t look as good as it did on the day you bought it. It’s not uncommon for the interior to get dirty over the years with normal use. Learning how to clean upholstery yourself is not that difficult and can save you some money.
These upholstery cleaning tips are for fabric interiors only and not for leather. We use shampoo to clean the inside of the fabric. We have options when it comes to the cleaning solution we use. You can purchase a super clean or purple powder degreaser at your local auto parts store. This works great on carpets and cloth seats to remove stains. You can also use sunrise dish detergent, which we all know is great for fighting grease. Find a five gallon bucket or anything that can hold two or three gallons of water. Fill the bucket with water and add just a little of the cleaner, if you use purple cleaner just add a few caps until the water changes color slightly. With dish soap maybe a tablespoon or so. We don’t want a lot of suds and soap that we have to get off the fabric. It is always a good idea to test a small spot in an inconspicuous area before starting. Just use a white cloth and dampen with cleanser and rub a little to see if the color rubs off on your towel. If so, stop now and call a professional for advice on cleaning this type of material.
Items needed to wash the interior of your car with shampoo are a wet / dry vacuum, a scrub brush, and some towels. Just do small areas at a time for best results, except for the seats, wet the entire seat to make sure there are no scratches. Then you can work on smaller areas of the seat after it’s all wet with shampoo. Use a hand towel to wet it with shampoo, then gently scrub with a brush and vacuum very well to remove as much of the water as possible. You can re-wet the faulty areas and vacuum them until you don’t see any more dirt coming out. When you’ve vacuumed it as best as possible, use a dry towel to scrub the entire seat, which removes more dirt and more water to help dry the times. We do the same process with each seat and the carpet.
Drying the interior as quickly as possible is essential when you are done with the shampoo. If it doesn’t dry in a reasonable amount of time, it will get moldy, similar to leaving wet clothes in the washing machine for too long. If it’s sunny, leave the windows open and make sure the car is in the sun. Put a fan in a car window to keep the air moving and speed up drying time. If it’s not sunny, you can roll the windows down about 2 inches and turn the heater on high. If you have a small fan that oscillates, put it in the car where you can get it to stay safe and turn it on high. Don’t leave it unattended for too long and keep checking the carpet and seats to see if they are dry. If you have a garage where you can leave the windows open all night and a fan is on, this would be ideal.
During the drying stage, you may notice some dirt resurfacing. When you are shown how to clean upholstery on a car that has had glue spills, you will see exactly what I am talking about. You can just take a dry towel and rub these areas while they dry and it will pick you up. There is no doubt that this is a long and tiring process when learning to clean upholstery. It takes a lot of bending and scrubbing. This is why many people choose to take their cars to a local detail store and steam clean the interior. Although, if you want to save money and learn how to do it yourself, this is one way to do it and get great results.